In six regions across the country, the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) is investing in and amplifying local efforts to ensure that new investments reduce racial disparities, build a culture of health and prepare for a changing climate. Since 2017, BLDG Memphis has served as the backbone agency for SPARCC in Memphis, also referred to as the Neighborhood Collaborative for Resilience (NCR), supporting community-led solutions for addressing racial inequity in North Memphis. Through a community table structure and various work groups, and as a result of the collective efforts of our staff, NCR members and the SPARCC national team, community-sourced projects were able to take root in a part of Memphis that has historically faced disinvestment.
The work we have accomplished through this partnership has been extremely rewarding. These projects include a food pantry, affordable senior housing, education around flash flooding and more.
Oasis of Hope Affordable Senior Housing
The NCR Capital Funding opportunity has allowed us to help fill a resource gap needed to build three quality and affordable, energy-efficient homes on the Oasis of Hope lots that are within a few blocks of their senior program at the Bickford Community Center. The funding provided through SPARCC led to the completion of the final three lots of a 40-lot subdivision (Bearwater Park), which involved countless partners, including the City of Memphis, THDA, HUD, Habitat for Humanity, President Jimmy Carter and numerous other foundations and non-profits.
Table Spread Food Pantry
The Midtown Mosque in Memphis received a capital grant from SPARCC of $40,000 to support the construction of Table Spread, a food pantry and non-profit retail greengrocer. In partnership with local farmers and a food bank in Klondike/Smokey City, residents in these communities now have better access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Future of SPARCC
As SPARCC prepares to launch its next three-year initiative in Memphis, SPARCC 2.0, we recognized that bringing in Center for Transforming Communities (CTC) as an institutional partner to lead this effort is the best next step for our community. CTC will now serve as the backbone agency to the continuation of SPARCC efforts across our city.
Executive Director of CTC, Justin Merek, states, “Center for Transforming Communities is very excited to support the North Memphis Neighborhood Collaborative for Resilience. Our model of grass seeds (youth), grassroots (residential) and grass tops (institutional) organizing is a fresh approach toward building neighborhood capacity and systems change. Designing storytelling experiences into community action plans, we see the arts as a powerful pathway toward communities taking ownership and leadership of their own neighborhood development. We invite all on our journey toward building the movement, as we often say, ‘don’t come to see, come to be.’”
We look forward to continuing to support SPARCC and CTC in their equitable development efforts in North Memphis, through our capacity building and policy work. We are excited for what the future holds for our community.